Kiermaier’s Diet Plan
Earlier this month during one of the radio broadcasts, Dave Wills mentioned he was talking to a scout before the game that said, “Kiermaier has enough pop to hurt himself at the plate.” The larger point was that a player who looks like someone that could thrive as a slash and dash player sometimes took swings at pitches with delusions of grandeur. That trait has been on display since the All-Star break as teams are feeding Kiermaier a steady diet of pitches he is not digesting well.
Kiermaier has hit .200/.237/.343 since the break as pitchers have mainly attacked him in two places – away and up.
Pitchers attacking Kiermaier away is nothing new as that is mostly where pitchers have gone after him since he came up to the major leagues. Heading into the break, he saw 56% fastballs and 44% non-fastballs, many to the outer half of the plate. Kiermaier rarely sprays pitches out there the other way for hits, but he does roll over on a good portion of those pitches to the right side of the diamond.
What is new is how pitchers are now taking more advantage of Kiermaier’s swing tendencies and getting him to climb the ladder.
According to TruMedia, Kiermaier has seen 724 fastballs from pitchers this season. On fastballs in the lower two-thirds of the zone, Kiermaier has done well with a ..306 batting average, swinging and missing at 9% of those fastballs and putting 46% of those fastballs into the field of play. When pitchers have been able to elevate the fastball into the upper third of the zone, Kiermaier’s numbers look much worse. He has a .152 batting average on those fastballs, swings and misses 37% of the time at those pitches and has put just 21% of those fastballs into play.
The ones he has put into play have been mostly harmless flyballs to the opposite field or groundballs to the pull side of the infield. For comparison’s sake, the league-wide batting average on elevated fastballs is .218 with a 25% swing and miss rate and 30% are put into play.
Given Kiermaier’s lack of success on elevated fastballs throughout his career and especially of late, he would be wise to cut his swing back a bit and utilize his speed versus getting himself out attacking pitches he is doing little with.